It isn’t often that a player leaves a program and then transfers back. Ali Ashner will be one of those rarities for Arizona softball. The lefthanded-hitting outfielder has returned to Tucson after spending time on the junior college circuit.
Ashner’s first tour with the Wildcats started during the 2019 season. The product of Hamilton High in Chandler was part of a class that consisted primarily of players from the state. Ashner joined Izzy Pacho and Marissa Schuld to make three-fifths of the class native Arizonans, but only Pacho was still wearing cardinal and navy after the 2020 season.
Ashner’s journey has been a winding one. A fan of Arizona State when she was growing up, she committed to former ASU coach Clint Myers and Auburn during her sophomore year in high school. In August of 2017, Myers was out as Auburn’s coach and Ashner decommitted. According to her website, an email to former Arizona coach Mike Candrea led to a spot in her home state.
Things got even more challenging for Ashner during her senior year. She tore her ACL in March of 2018. Arizona honored her commitment, but she was never able to take the field for the Wildcats. By April 2019, she had left the program and was still trying to rehab after multiple surgeries.
Ashner got back on the field for the 2020 season, but it wasn’t at the NCAA level. Instead, she played for South Mountain Community College in Phoenix. In 2021, it was announced that she would be transferring to Grand Canyon University to continue her Division I career in the 2022 season, but Ashner didn’t take the field for the Antelopes. Instead, she returned to Phoenix College, the reigning NJCAA Division II national champions.
The 2022 season was huge for Ashner. Playing alongside NJCAA Division II Pitcher of the Year Brianna Hardy, Ashner helped the Bears to their second straight national title. Ashner was crowned the NJCAA Division II Player of the Year, an honor Hardy had won the previous two seasons.
Ashner hit .556 last season, had a 1.106 slugging percentage, and notched a .619 on-base percentage. The batting average was second in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference. Both her batting average and slugging percentage were fifth in NJCAA while her OBP ranked third in the nation. Her 19 home runs were first in ACCAC and 13th in the country.
Ashner will return to Tucson with Hardy, her Phoenix College teammate.